Allied Health Podcast Series 1 Episode 15

An Employer’s Perspective – Interview with Kathryn Frame

In Episode 15 of Allied Health Podcast, Clare Jones interviews Kathryn Frame, Occupational Therapist and Allied Health Manager at St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Toowoomba. With an abundance of experience in Allied Health Management Kathryn shares her expert knowledge and advice about the recruitment process from an employer’s perspective and what she looks for when hiring allied health professionals.

Speaker You’re listening to Allied Health Podcast, talking all things Allied Health with your hosts, Danielle Weedon, physiotherapist, and Clare Jones, occupational therapist.

Danielle Weedon Welcome back to Allied Health Podcast. In this episode, Clare sits down with Kathryn Frame, occupational therapist, director and owner of a very successful occupational rehabilitation and medicolegal company and most recently allied health manager at St. Vincent’s Private Hospital in Toowoomba, Queensland. With an abundance of experience in allied health management, Kathryn shares with us and yourself her expert advice on navigating the recruitment process from an employer’s perspective, and what she looks for when hiring allied health professionals.

Clare Jones So would you like to start by giving us an overview on your career through occupational therapy?

Kathryn Frame Oh, I’m happy to Clare, and you know how old I am, so this could take a while, right?! So I guess, yeah. I’m from Queensland. I went to the University of Queensland and studied occupational therapy. I’m not sure I really understood the [?] of OT at that time, and I think when I was at uni, I was mainly interested in hand therapy and paediatrics. And of course, I’ve not ended up in either of those areas of clinical practice. So my first role after uni, I did persue the paediatric area, and I had a little yellow Corolla and I hopped in the Corolla in the middle of summer with no air conditioning and I drove out to Roma, and that was my first job. I worked at the education department in Roma. And actually, you sort of look back at your career and you really see a series of sliding doors. I met an OT who had been in my role at the ed department, and she’d moved up to the hospital. Her name was Angela, and later Angela was to become my business partner, years later actually, and we had a really successful business together. So she was a real mentor to me in that role. It was a fairly isolated role. I was a sole therapist at the ed department, but we did have some really good support from Brisbane in terms of [?] won’t be able to remember what the unit was called. But there was a unit of really experienced therapists who were always on the phone and we were able to contact them when we needed them. So from there, I stayed there for about three years and then I moved back to Brisbane and did a little locum. And then I went overseas and did some work overseas, mainly in acute adult in hospitals, in the acute setting, working with adults. So that was quite a different experience to what I had had in Roma. So I spent 12 months in London and England, so I worked in Yorkshire as well. Came home and went back into paediatrics. So I worked at Ipswich Special School. We covered the Ipswich area working in both mainstream and special schools. So it turned out it was during that time that I was working at Ipswich that I went to a birthday party actually, at the races, and I ran into my old friend Angela, who had been my mentor in Roma and she was working in occ rehab. And it was an area that I had a lot of interest in, but had never really had any experience. And I was interested, I guess, in finding out what she had been doing. And she said, Well, actually, there’s a role going at the moment. So I ended up having an interview with an organisation called Workplace Solutions, which was based in Fortitude Valley, and I got that job. And that’s kind of that started me on the path, I think, to what became, I guess, my main practice area for the next 13 years. So Ang and I ended up going into business together. We had, we were both in relationships with fellows who were from the country, and my now husband was working in Goondawindi at the time and Ang’s partner then was in Millmerran. So we decided that we pack up from Brisbane and moved to Toowoomba. And our boss at the time said, Well, would you think about setting up a franchise of work based solutions? So we did that. And then things happened and we were able to go out on our own together. We were never going to employ anyone. We were just going to be sole therapists doing what we love to do. And it turns out that after 12 years, we had a workforce of about 20 staff, which made up about 13 or 14 FTEs. So we had this business. We’re working in occ rehab, but we’re also during medico legal work, we were servicing the private hospital, which was St Vincent’s with some of our OTs, so they’d visit the hospital and do a lot of the occupational therapy service over there. And we also started working in the NDIS space when that came about, I think that was about 2017 that that rolled out in Toowoomba. Sorry, [?] a bit earlier than that, 2016, I think. So we were approached by a national company and we’re asked if we wanted to sell, and we really loved what we were doing, so I said, No way, we’re not for sale. But then it turned out that we ended up changing our minds and we did end up selling our business. And from there, there was a certain restriction of trade, obviously. But St Vincent’s Private did approach me because they were looking bringing their allied health service in-house. So that previous to that time, had had private providers providing the occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech pathology and dietetics services. So I came over initially as an occupational therapist, and then I moved into the allied health manager role. And that’s where I’m at at the moment. So we employ five different disciplines now. So physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech pathology, dietetics and social work is one of our new offerings as well at St Vincent’s in Toowoomba. So that’s where I spend my time.

Clare Jones Kath, I’m often asked by students, allied health students and early career therapists, if it’s possible to to transfer from one area of, say, OT to another, and just listening to your story there. So you started out in paediatrics, you went overseas and had a stint of doing locum work in acute adult work. You then came back and went back into paediatrics, and then you transferred over to OR, to occupational rehab. And then, I guess, having your own business, you organically moved into a management role within OR and now have, and now currently a manager of allied, manager of Allied Health at Sir Vincent’s Private, that really goes to show that you can chop and change with OT can’t you?

Kathryn Frame Absolutely. Just somewhat transferable skills that are really useful in so many different areas. And I think that’s a real, a really good point of our professions that you can do that.

Clare Jones And I, you know, the greatest piece of advice I heard in terms of being an occupational therapist is that you, that first five years of your career really doesn’t define you, and it is your opportunity to move about and, you know, try a number of different areas to see, you know, what works best for you and what you enjoy most.

Kathryn Frame Yeah, absolutely. It is good. And certainly, you know, the paediatrics I did, in terms of [?] coming to work that did come in really handy as well. So you’re always using different skill sets and being different as different opportunities that [?]

Clare Jones So obviously, you’ve had a lot of experience in recruitment, having your own business and also in the position that you’re in now. Can you describe the recruitment, the typical recruitment process for allied health professionals at St Vincent’s Private in Toowoomba?

Kathryn Frame So yeah, so again, as you said, I’ve had experience in the small business kind of sphere as well, and certainly the process we use at St Vincent’s Private is a lot more structured than what we did in private practice. So we have an enterprise agreement that covers the three private hospitals that we have here in Queensland. So we have our Kangaroo Point Hospital and St Vincent’s Northside as well. And so we have the one enterprise agreement. So that’s a really good place to start I guess, for people who do want to work for an organisation is looking at whether there is an enterprise agreement in place specifically, which will go through the different levels and pay points. So we have in allied health, we have a level one, which is an allied health assistant. We can have level twos, threes, fours and fives. So a level two is where you grads would start on and there’s the four pay points there. So our process would be that we would decide on which level we’re wanting to advertise. And sometimes we don’t even say within the ad what level we’re looking for, we call it an evergreen ad. And so that might be that we are really happy to look at any level, really, whether it’s two or three usually. Four is a clinical lead, so we would advertise that specifically. But sometimes we’ll say specifically we want a two, or specifically we want a three, or we may just not say any level. And when you go into the job ad they’ll actually be two position descriptions there, and we would, depending on the experience of the person and we’d look at the role according to that. We don’t, we haven’t yet advertised for an actual new grad position for a 12 month period. We’ve advertised for level twos, so being a new sort of team, I guess that’s, that’s the way we’ve gone. But certainly, we’ve picked up some new grads in that. So we put the ad out on Indeed and it’s also on our website. And St Vincent’s Health Australia also have a process whereby people can apply through the wider website, called Our Healthcare Heroes. There doesn’t even need to be in an ad up for people to register their interest in that regard, and that covers all of our hospitals, actually. But certainly [?] St Vincent’s Private Hospital website is where we advertise. So what we ask for, is that people submit their cover letter and a curriculum vitae. We then review the applications and we shortlist who we’re going to interview and we call the applicant to arrange the interview. Then we do the interview reference checks, and then we let the applicant know. So that’s kind of the process in a nutshell.

Clare Jones Okay. Now, in your your opinion, what makes a written application stand out? So when you’re reviewing a number of applications, what makes you choose certain candidates from their written application?

Kathryn Frame Sure. So in the cover letter, we really want to see that it’s tailored to our organisation. That there’s been some research about our organisation. That there’s an understanding of how the applicant’s skill set can apply to the position description. Addressing the letter to the contact person in the ad is really important to do, rather than sort of just saying to whom it may concern, I think it’s really important to say, you know, Dear Ms Frame, or Dear Kathryn, and then we know that it’s not just a kind of template, I suppose. That [?] are really tailoring it to our organisation. So relevant work experience really stands out. So for a new grad, I guess, where did you do your pracs? Do you have a part time job or have you had a part time job while you’ve been at uni? And what’s that been? So certainly we’ve had people apply who been successful who have done some disability support work, and have you had any volunteer positions as well. So. So that’s really important. And those types of things stand out because it shows that people have kind of got some professional skills in place already. I guess referees are quite important. We’ve had a few people apply for jobs where they might have put a referee down that has had no hospital experience, for example, and wouldn’t be able to comment from a professional [?] on how this person has performed, I guess, in a hospital. And probably that may be irrelevant here in the sense that it’s more the senior positions that we’d want to see have the hospital experience, but certainly do pay some attention to who you’ve got there as your referees. And it is good if it’s somebody who’s been your supervisor for your prac, [?] they can really give us information because we do, if we’re looking at somebody for a job, they’ve gotten through that interview process, and we’re to that point of checking referees, it is, that is a very important part. So don’t not pay attention to who you put down as your referees.

Clare Jones Kathryn, we also advise especially graduating therapist students to use referees from more recent clinical placements. We often request references from referees who really, and understandably, can’t comment too much on how the the person performed in their prac because they simply can’t remember. So using a referee from, say, a a short first year placement isn’t as, it doesn’t provide you with as much relevant information as using someone from a fourth year clinical placement that was a solid placement and sort of six to eight weeks long.

Kathryn Frame Absolutely. Yeah, because some of the questions that we ask are quite specific about punctuality, any quality improvement activities that were worked on, those types of things. So if you if your referee is just saying, look, I can’t remember or I don’t know, they are, they’re not a very useful referee for us. So. And I think that’s that’s a good point. And spelling and grammar is worth thinking… If you need somebody to check or edit it for you before you send it, then do that, because yes, I mean, obviously, we could potentially miss out on somebody really good, whose grammar may not be perfect, but we do really want to make sure that what you’re providing to us is really worthy, I guess, of the application and I guess it shows us respect as well. And that’s probably… sorry –

Clare Jones No, Kathryn, I was just going to say that it’s as simple as using spell check, isn’t it? And it really does reflect your ability to attend to detail. And again, that’s a transferable skill.

Kathryn Frame Correct. And there’s so much written documentation that you need to do in our roles. So it is really important. And, you know, in in a hospital, in our hospital, we still have a written tasks, so we don’t have an ENR yet. So you do need to demonstrate, you know reasonably good written communication so that is a key skill that we’d be looking out for and just, you know, a well set out CV. We don’t want to see gaps or unanswered questions in the CV. You know, if you have had a break for parental leave or another break, for whatever reason, just explain that out, because we do pick that up and say, Well, what’s happened here and where’s this gap been? So again, not as relevant for new grads, but it may be that perhaps some of the mature age new grads, do we still call people mature age? You need to be careful these days about how you label students and label people. So yes, I guess that, yeah, in terms of what makes a written application stand out to me, they’re probably the key things.

Clare Jones Great, great. Now, what format does an interview typically take?

Kathryn Frame So we yeah, we have a quite formal process. So it’s, you’re talking about, you know, from like we’ve set the time, we’ve called the person [?] coming in for the interview. We would typically at first, we go through an introduction of the panel. So we have usually two to three people on a panel for a new graduate position. Or a level two position, we’d usually have two people on the panel and in allied health that would typically be myself and then the clinical lead for the discipline so if it’s a speech pathology position we’d have our level 4 speechie, and so forth for OT, physio, social work, etc. So we would explain the role. And then there’s a bit of a checklist that we go through, which we may do at the start or the end. People are fairly keen to jump straight into the formal questions. We have a, we do have formal questions that we devise prior to the interview and we do a lot of writing during the interviews. So we don’t give a lot of verbal feedback. And I guess that’s really our, we need to sort of keep it consistent across [?] a number people that we’re interviewing. But certainly, there’s a lot of writing and we do actually score those answers after the interview. So, so there would be key things that we’re looking for in an answer to a question. But in saying that, we do get such variable responses. So, so the key things that we’re looking for and we do a lot of behavioural questioning. So that’s where we want to know, in a particular situation what have you done, what, and what were the results of that? And on reflection, would you do anything different? So I think some people use the STAR method, so situation task action result, and we actually ask our questions in that format as well. So some of the questions are behavioural and they’d be key things that we’d be looking for the applicant to be kind of addressing within the question. And then we do one or two clinical questions, but certainly in those behavioural questions, people have the opportunity to bring out those clinical skills. So we ask the questions and then we give the opportunity for the applicants to ask their questions as well, so they may have some questions around the particular role, and I think we can go into that in more detail later on. But yeah, so we ask our questions. They ask their questions. We do have a bit of a checklist that we run through in the sense of just providing more detail around the position. And then that’s pretty much the interview process.

Clare Jones And the questions that you ask Kathryn, are the questions that come from the position description, are the key points mentioned… In terms of getting an idea, preparing for an interview, what potentially is going to be asked in interview, are the questions taken from key points in the advertisement or position description?

Kathryn Frame Absolutely, yeah. So things around teamwork and communication and time management. Those types of things. Providing high quality of clinical care would be something that’s in a position description, and therefore there’d be a question around that in terms of a clinical question and looking at the process that a person might take to address that situation.

Clare Jones And I guess it’s important with your clinical questions as an interviewee, that what you’re really wanting to see is very sound clinical reasoning.

Kathryn Frame Correct, yeah, absolutely. And it’s quite interesting. I think allied health in general, we can be doing things that look quite simple to the outside world don’t they?

Clare Jones Very much so.

Kathryn Frame But the clinical reasoning that sits behind that can be quite complex. And I think that’s that’s a key skill that certainly early career OTs need to develop. And so being an able to demonstrate that, and understanding of that, in interview is really important. I think having particular examples in preparation for the interview is really good. So we do often ask people to provide an example if they can, of where they’ve demonstrated these skills. So there might be a question, for example, about having to deal with a difficult patient or family, [?] family or a difficult co-worker. And then we might say, can you think of a time when you’ve been in a situation like this? What would you – what did you do? What was the situation? What did you do? What was the outcome? And then on reflection, would you do anything differently? So I think it’s possible to have sort of a bank of examples ready to go. But then the skill is in making sure you attach the right example to the right question because you don’t want to have all these examples and then it to be completely irrelevant to the question that’s being asked.

Clare Jones Aboslutely. And I think nerves play a big part in, nerves play a big part in how you perform in an interview.

Kathryn Frame Absolutely.

Clare Jones And that’s where you can get caught up and you get overwhelmed and you can start putting the wrong example with the wrong question, and it can get quite overwhelming can’t it?

Kathryn Frame Absolutely. And I think something that’s really important to remember is that we’ve all been there. We’ll all been new grads. And we’ve all had to go for interviews you know, even not as a new grad, you know we’ve been in interviews where we’ve been nervous, we all react differently to nerves.I know I get this red rash that goes up my neck, so I tend to wear light coloured shirts and that kind of thing because there’s nothing I can do to stop it. If my adrenaline, and I think it’s a good thing in a certain sense because it shows that I care about what I’m doing. But yeah, I think everybody responds differently to stress and pressure, and I think it’s a really good insight to have into your own behaviours as to how you do actually respond to stress and being kind of pressurised in situations I guess, and then thinking about different strategies you can use. You know, I said before I did medico legal work and I remember having to give evidence in court, and fortunately, it was always phone evidence. That’s the good thing about working regionally. I mean, I can’t make it to Brisbane.

Clare Jones I can’t attend court. In a very high necked collared shirt.

Kathryn Frame So, you know, I would have to kind of take myself into a quiet room and do some deep breathing and then try to stay calm beforehand, and I think those kind of [?] always work for me. Yeah, I think it’s something to pay attention to in the sense that how you individually are going to manage those nerves so that they don’t impact your performance to a point where your potential employer isn’t going to see the best of you.

Clare Jones And preparation really is key, isn’t it, to settling those nerves?

Kathryn Frame Absolutely. Yeah. And I think you can really think about, well, here’s the position description what is the employer looking for? What type of therapist or allied health professional are they after? What are the key things that they’ll be looking for, and then how can I bring that to the interview? How can I show them that I’ve got that skill set and those behaviours that they want to have me as part of their team?

Clare Jones So, Catherine, what questions do you often get asked by applicants in an interview? What questions do you like to be asked in an interview?

Kathryn Frame Look, I like to see that the applicant has, is really keen and wants to learn, understands that they’re a new grad so they don’t know everything yet, but that they’re really keen to learn so. So I guess asking questions about the type of support that they’ll receive as a new graduate, both on the ground and what sort of access to continuing professional development they might get. And certainly, you know, our perspective is that, yes, we absolutely want to support people with their CPD and we do have study days and and providing some financial support. But certainly, there is an expectation that the individual will make some contribution to that as well. So we kind of, I think asking around that would be good, and what sort of experience those people who are going to be mentoring me, or supervising me, what’s their experience and what sort of support can I expect to have? I think, you know, well-thought out questions do show initiative, and it’s not good to ask questions just for the sake of asking a question, you do need to be authentic about it. We do have a checklist that we go through that often people will say to me, Oh, look, I did have questions, but you actually answered them. So that the type of things are parking, where they’re going to park, the really basic skills things like where am I going to park and how much does it cost? What else- uniforms. Do you provide uniforms? The shift length and hours of work is important. So as an example, some of our roles are nearly full time, but we actually advertise them as part time because they’re like 70 hours a fortnight instead of 76. But it does allow people to be [?]. We would generally just explain exactly what the hours of work are. We’ll direct people to the enterprise agreement so that they understand, you know what, the leave is, because certainly we have physios who do weekend shifts and that will usually make them eligible for five weeks a year holiday instead of four weeks a year. So things like that is really, I guess, they’re really good things to understand with regard to the role, and it’s not necessarily going to make or break it for you, but it just sort of sets the expectation for you. How long in advance do I need to submit my leave applications, that kind of thing? I think that can be a really good question to ask. And certainly, if you are wanting to take leave, or you’ve have booked a holiday. Well, I really wanted to apply for the job and I have booked an overseas holiday, not that any of us have done that recently, unfortunately. But, you know, I’m hoping that I’d still be able to take that. I really want the job, that kind of thing, being upfront rather than starting on your first day and saying, oh by the way I need four weeks off in two weeks time. That doesn’t go across very well. So anything like that, that’s specific to your situation, I think, is good to raise at the interview.

Clare Jones I think that also shows, well for a start, no one likes a surprise. I like that point you make about leave Kath, because there’s, it’s not good as an employer to have someone on their first day tell you that they’ve booked a six week holiday, but it also reflects transparency.

Kathryn Frame Yeah, absolutely. And honesty and integrity.

Clare Jones Yeah, really good qualites.

Kathryn Frame Actually that just reminds me too Clare, of…Often organisations have what we call values, and it’s really important to know the values of the organisation when you’re going for an interview as well. So for St Vincent’s our core main values are integrity, excellence, compassion and justice, and we will often have a question around that. But certainly, I think businesses, even small businesses these days do have those values. So it’s really good to understand what they are before you go into interview. That’s something, I’m sorry –

Clare Jones That’s a very good point to make Kath, a really good point. Now what happens after an interview?

Kathryn Frame Yeah, so after the interview, look I guess the time frame for getting everything done can vary. We have a, we’ve got a fairly big organisation and so we have a human resource department. We would do a reference check, and I spoke about reference checks, before for usually just for the person that we’re thinking has got the job. So we won’t do everybody’s reference check. We will in the interview ask… Some people will, will not put their refereees on their application. They will say, you know, to be provided on request. So but we always, whether that’s there or not, we will always ask in interview, are you happy for us to contact your referees? So usually the person that we are going to appoint, so we think we’re going to appoint, we will do their reference checks first and we…I guess that process of letting that, once we’ve done the reference checks, and they can sometimes take time because if you’ve got a referee who’s overseas or on holidays, you know it can be difficult to track them down. And so that can actually extend the process a little bit. We don’t let unsuccessful applicants know until that person who we’ve offered the job to, has let us know that they have accepted the role. Because and look, I think it’s one of the least enjoyable aspects of my role is having to ring the [?] interviewees who didn’t get the job. I don’t enjoy that at all. And I always do like to give feedback to them. And you know, we, I remember we had an OT role that was advertised a couple of years ago and we got a fabulous OT, she was in her second year. She had done a year in one of the Brisbane metropolitan hospitals, but we had a new grad assigned for that role. And look from the interview, I mean, it was like splitting hairs honestly, I could not give her any feedback. I just said to her, Just do what you did, just do what you did for us, you’ll get a job. You know, it’s just situational. We just had two fabulous applicants and really, it was just the one who already had that year behind her. You know, it’s not easy. We do want to allow interviewees to do really well. And look, if we had a job for everyone, we’d love to give it, give it to them. So yes, we do. Sorry, I’ve gone off track. But yeah, we will typically do the reference checks, offer the job to the successful applicant. If they accept, then they, there’s a sort of HR onboarding process that we go through and then I will, if somebody’s made the effort to come in for an interview, I will always call them to to let them know that they have been unsuccessful.

Clare Jones Right. And to give them that feedback.

Kathryn Frame Yes, absolutely. Yeah, if they want it, I will always ask, you know, Do you want feedback?

Clare Jones We really encourage the therapists we work with to get that feedback. I think it’s really important going into your next interview, if there’s anything you can improve on, that’s really valuable to get that feedback for your next interview and like that case that you’ve just described Kath, it just comes down to sometimes it literally just comes down to one person having more experience than the others, and that’s completely out of your control. So having that positive feedback, even though you’ve been unsuccessful, gives you so much more confidence going into your next interview.

Kathryn Frame Absolutely. And I think too, you could say, Look, I’m really keen to work for your organisation if anything comes up in the future. Would you keep me in mind because you know, I’ve done that, I’ve actually rung somebody who was unsuccessful for a role recently, quite a high level role, a senior role. She had missed out on the role, and I rang her up and said, [?] still interested, and now she’s working with us. So that’s yeah. And we’re very lucky to have her.

Clare Jones The world, the world of allied health is a very small world, isn’t it?

Kathryn Frame Absolutely. Yes, your networks are critical and start developing those now if you haven’t already started.

Clare Jones Absolutely. So leaving a very good last impression if you’ve been unsuccessful can pay dividends in the future.

Kathryn Frame Absolutely, yes.

Clare Jones Now, specifically for our early graduate and early career therapists listening, what advice do you have around, you know, what do you see as the main challenges for therapists in their first year of practice?

Kathryn Frame So I mean, specifically looking at the role that they’ve moved into, I think learning the systems. I think you’re still kind of developing your clinical skills and you’re trying to learn new systems as well, and there’s often in big organisations quite a lot of systems that you’ve got to navigate. I guess the culture of an organisation is something too, that you go to learn. So there’s all these other bits and pieces that, you know you might have experience a little bit of it on prac but now that you’re an actual team member and you’re part of this culture now, that’s something that, the culture is the way things are done in an organisation. And that’s a bit of a learning curve, too, I think, for people.

Clare Jones Kath, can I just mention your point earlier about discussing the values of researching and discussing the values of an organisation in an interview? I really like that point, and we come we come back to it now again. If you found an organisation where your values really align with their values, it’s going to increase your chances of really enjoying the company, not the company – the organisation’s culture, and it’s going to make for an easier transition into the organisation, wouldn’t you say?

Kathryn Frame I totally agree. And look, we’re looking for that in interview, making sure that there is alignment there and certainly the behaviours that we need to see do need to align with our values. Again, that’s a very good point. I guess, you know, navigating the work-life balance as well, is something that new graduates in their first year of practice kind of need to get used to. I think uni life can be quite different, you’ve got your… I went to UQ, we had the pool, we had the gym, we had all of that sort of stuff, we had [?], we had bars, all of that kind of thing. And I guess, you know, we are really busy in that first year of practice and just maintaining our own wellbeing is really important. And I think, really taking some time to reflect on that and think about what, well what are the hobbies that are important to me and how do I now fit this into my new schedule? Some people have moved out of home for the first time. They might have lived at home while they were at uni or lived at college with others, and now they’re kind of fending for themselves a little bit more. So that’s a whole new learning as well. And I think, you know, we do need to be kind to ourselves in those early years and take the time to really think about how that might be impacting us. And you know, your employer does want you to do well. So they’re a really good source of support. And if you are struggling with any of that, I do think it’s important to just find that trusted person who might be a little bit more senior to you, who can support you. I just remember my first year of work…oh actually I missed out. I actually went and did a locum before I did my first role out in Roma. I went up the Sunshine Coast and I had all these visions of going to the beach every afternoon after work. But I think I went to bed at like seven o’clock every night. I was so tired. So fatigue is quite a big one as well. And sort of managing that and eating well and doing all the right things from a health and wellbeing perspective.

Clare Jones It certainly is Kath, and it’s such a steep, it’s such a steep learning curve that first year and I remember, I remember also collapsing in a heap at about seven o’clock at night for about the first six months. And I’d go to work all day and then I, I’d come home and I’d read and I’d study and I’d spend Saturdays, you know, catching up on reports that I wasn’t getting done during the week. And it’s not sustainable. And I don’t think that there was an acceptance of transparency around, you know, that sort of thing when we were grads. So I think it’s really important to seek the support of, you know, your supervisor in the workplace and just don’t burn yourself out, especially in those first six months.

Kathryn Frame Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, the key is that sometimes our behaviours can become less optimal when we are burnt out and we are feeling like we’ve kind of, what’s the word…we’ve got nothing left in our bucket. You know? And so, yeah, it’s just, it’s really key to just look after yourself in that way, I think would be my advice. I’m sorry, I think too there, really try to establish some mentoring relationships in those early years as well. If that’s not readily available in the organisation that you’re working for, then really try and seek it out externally. I think it’s important. And another thing I’d recommend too is, we talked before Clare about the, I guess, the clinical reasoning skills behind different techniques that we might use or different sort of therapies that we use. So I think it’s good to have somebody that you can go to and continue in that STAR sort of approach, in the sense of running things through, saying: this was the situation. This is what I’m thinking I’m going to do. Is there anything else I should be thinking about? You know, you’re not. You’re bringing it to your supervisor or your more senior person and you’re running it through. And then over time, I think they’re going to be saying less, Have you thought about this or have you thought about doing it, because you were already thinking of it? But I think in those early days you may, you don’t know what we don’t know. So just presenting what you think you’re going to do and then getting people’s feedback as to what else you might be able to think of, is good.

Clare Jones And it’s having that sounding. It’s having that sounding board, isn’t it? Sometimes you can think, you know, without someone to reference, you can sometimes think you’re doing an amazing job, but you’re actually missing 50 percent of the equation, which is easy to do when you’re working, particularly, I know we’re quite OT focussed, just by both being OTs here, but especially in something like OT because it’s so holistic, that there is so much to consider.

Kathryn Frame Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And I just think of an example and it’s physio actually in the ICU, you know, a junior physio might have seen somebody else do something in a particular way. And so they come in and they go, Well, I’m going to do this because I saw my senior do it this way. But what was the reason? And what are the co-morbidities that we need to think about and being able to explain why it is that you’re doing this particular thing rather than, oh, I saw them do it so I’m going to do it too.

Clare Jones Well, thank you so much, Kathryn, for joining us. That is invaluable advice for any graduate, and early career therapist and senior therapist for that matter. And so thank you so much for joining us.

Kathryn Frame So welcome Clare, I hope it’s useful.

Clare Jones Absolutely. Bye!

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